All posts by Faith Walker

Crazy Love

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Hosea and Gomer. I’ve always loved this story…not because it’s a happy fairytale, but because it’s not. It’s real. It’s human weakness and Supernatural love on display. The kind that only God can give.

Last week I purchased a copy of “For Such a Time As This” by Angie Smith. It’s a children’s book designed for little girls all about the women of the Bible. The illustrations are beautifully done by Breezy Brookshire and the writing style Angie uses is lovely.

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I settled in one afternoon on the couch with my eight-year-old sister to flip through the pages and read some stories to her. At page 120, I stopped. There they were. Hosea and Gomer. As I read the words aloud (well written, by the way, for a younger crowd) it struck me again. I’m in awe of this story.

Hosea is told to marry Gomer despite her checkered past. He does and he loves her. They have children, but Gomer’s old life pulls at her. She eventually leaves. But this is where it gets so unbelievable. Hosea’s love for Gomer is unreal. After all she does…her trickery, her lying, her cheating, her unfaithfulness…Hosea chooses to love her anyway.

My favorite part of this story is the end… Gomer winds up being sold into slavery. Dirty, penniless, and unable to help herself…she stands there on the selling block waiting for someone to buy her. Rejected. Broken. Unwanted. Hopeless. Her past is stained. Her future is bleak.

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Then a Jewish man steps up to bid. He buys Gomer and she looks up into the face of her master…and gasps. It is Hosea. Her Hosea. The one she was unfaithful to. The one she turned her back on for something worthless. He bought her back.

This is unconditional love. Crazy love.

At this point in the book, I am crying. I can’t hide my tears and my little sister is trying to figure out why I’m crying at a children’s book. My voice wobbles as I read the last few sentences. But it’s not a children’s story. This is my story.

This story is of Jesus rescuing me from myself. Loving me despite my flaws. Redeeming me though I am completely unworthy. Calling me consistently to Himself when my heart wanders. This is MY story.

Hosea 3:1-2
“Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods…So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.”

Hosea and Gomer. Jesus and me. This is my story. Unconditional love for an undeserving girl….and I’m forever grateful to Him.

Dear Teen Girl…

By | Beauty, Personal, Womanhood | No Comments

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Dear Teen Girl,

I’m writing this letter to you because I need you to know something…I know you get a bad rap for your age. Maybe some of it is legit (after all, you are a young and imperfect human being like the rest of us), but I believe you are more. You are beautifully created for TODAY and for this time in history. I’m young enough to know that the problems you face are real, and old enough to know you will make it. No really, you will. I know it seems like no one in the world could ever make it out of these years alive, but you can. You will. (The God that made you has also parted the Red Sea and healed the sick, so helping you through the teen years is very doable for Him.) So pretend I’m standing next to you, me-a twenty-something and you-a teen…and drink it in. What I’m about to say comes right from my heart. I want you to listen close:

I believe in your generation of young women.

I see in you an amazing hunger for truth that the world isn’t satisfying. The girls of your generation are looking for answers..and you are smart enough to know that this world doesn’t have what it takes. I see in you a desire to know Jesus and discover if He is real for yourselves. I see in your generation a fire to be more than what is expected. To go beyond what is accepted and stand up in a culture that expects so little of teens. I see a passion for being different and swimming against the tide. I see you girls rebelling against culture and saying YES to Jesus in ways that knock my socks off. I know many in your generation believe that your teen years can be some of your best years, some of your most fruitful years. I believe in your generation, but more importantly, I believe in you.

Did you hear that?

I believe in YOU.

You may think the whole world is against you.

It is.

You may think that the entire culture is nipping at your heels waiting for you to fail.

It is.

You may even feel the pressure of your Christian community expecting you to waste your life and make some major mistakes in the next few years.

For the most part, they probably are. It’s just human.

But for all the negative pushing against you, I believe you can be different. I also believe that you WANT to be. Deep down in the recesses of your heart, you desire more than anything to stand up and stand out. You want to do something big with your life and to find out what really matters. You want to know what you believe in and to stop piggy-backing on someone else’s faith. You want to know Jesus personally. To KNOW He is real for yourself.

I believe in you.

I have seen what happens when a girl catches fire for Jesus. I have seen the fire in her eyes as she shares truth unashamed. I have seen the power she possesses to change and challenge an entire generation. I have stood in awe, again and again to watch the path of one ordinary girl…One ordinary girl who chooses to give her 100% to Someone powerful and far bigger than herself.

I believe YOU are that girl.

You see, I believe you are just like Esther. You are come to our generation, to our time in history “for such a time as this”. You were born for this! You are a princess sent here in mission for your Heavenly Father, capable of insurmountable odds and mind-blowing things because of Him. I believe you are crazy-loved and wonderfully perfect for this mission and I believe in you. Esther wasn’t a hero because she was extraordinary…she was a hero because she made some amazing choices in the moments she found herself in. She just did the next right thing and left the results to God. And I believe Esther’s God (Yahweh) in you, could do the same heroic deeds. (Esther 4)

I believe you are like Jeremiah…a young person feeling unequipped and yet called to be the voice of God to His people. (Jeremiah 1) You are equipped by the very Hand of God as He puts words in your mouth and wisdom in your heart for the journey ahead.

I believe you are like Timothy…bearing the weight of an incredible spiritual harvest, and yet despised because of your age (1 Timothy 4:12). That’s why I’m writing this letter…because I see that you are capable of showing a dying world the healing power of Jesus. You are about His business!

I believe in you. I love your heart, your craving for Jesus and your zeal for truth. I love your energy…I could use it some days. I love how your eyes light up when you connect with the Word or understand something new from Scripture. I appreciate your honesty.

I believe you are beautiful, chosen, unique, and created for this moment. I believe you are forgiven, bought, secure, and sealed. I believe you are cherished, valued, loved, and adopted into royalty. I believe you are enough.

Can I just tell you, I believe in you for more than the shade of your tan or the silkiness of your hair. You are more than what you look like. I believe in you because I know your Creator…and He doesn’t make anything less than masterpieces. You’re one of them. Every time I see you I smile because I know He has an amazing plan for you. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat…wondering, what will He do next with you?

Why do I talk to teens, write to teens and speak to teen girls like you? Simply put, I want a front row seat for the adventure God has you on.

I believe in YOU. I believe in your Jesus. Put a daughter on a mission for her ALL-Powerful Father, and I believe we have… a winner! That’s why I believe in you!

Keep it up little sis, I’m cheering you on!

Love from, An Older Sister

Who is Your Daddy?

By | Bible, Personal, Relationships, Suffering, Womanhood | One Comment

“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” 1 John 3:1 (KJV)

One of my life passions is helping young women understand the depth of God’s love for them. Of course, humanly speaking, wrapping our minds around the limitless love of God is impossible. However, even if we catch a glimpse of that unconditional love He has for us, it completely transforms the way we see our Heavenly Father. It’s all about Who we belong to, girls!

I once saw a powerful 3 minute video clip by Pricilla Shirer that I want to share with you. (and if you can’t watch this video, you can read the words to it at www.goingbeyond.com/blog/who-do-you-belong/)

Every time I see this clip (and trust me, I’ve watched it a lot), I want to stand up and cheer for my Heavenly Daddy! The fact that this limitless Daddy chose to become Father to a limited girl like me… that is amazing! I’m in awe of that kind of love. That kind of grace overwhelms me. What mercy and kindness!

I’ve also noticed the more I focus on Him and Who He is, the more I see myself and my surroundings in a different light. When I am secure in His love, not much else matters, does it? It changes the way I see myself in the mirror in the morning. It changes the way I view the ministry He has set before me. It completely transforms the way I view big problems in life…because they’re not too big for Him.

I love seeing the first part of 1 John 3:1 in this way too… “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are!…” (HCSB) We are!

We are His daughters! Princesses of King Jesus. Savor that incredible thought for a little while, gals. Dwell on it. Think about the power of that small sentence. You are His little girl.

You.    Are.    His.

Nothing can stop Him from loving you… “For I am persuaded , that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present , nor things to come , Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

I want some feed back here, sisters. What are some of the amazing things you LOVE about Jesus? What makes your heart burst with thankfulness when you think of Him? I want the comment box here to flood with your praise of our amazing Heavenly Daddy. What are the characteristics you most appreciate about Him right now? So go ahead…click below and share.

Jonah and Me

By | Bible, Personal, Testimonies | No Comments

“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Jonah 1:1-3

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Years ago, I used to read those verses and think…what is this guy’s problem? Does he really think that he can run from the Lord? That was then. This is now…and NOW I have realized something: Jonah and me….we have this problem. We are in the same boat. Sometimes literally. I am quite sure that Jonah is somewhere in my family lineage way back. I’m just way too much like him to not be related.

You see, the more I walk with Jesus, the more I realize that He sometimes calls us to do uncomfortable things. Crazy things. Hard things. Ridiculous things. Awkward things. Radical things. Way-outside-our-box things. All for His glory.

That being said, I have a major confession to make. I have to tell you an inside story to a recent weekend event…

There is a wonderful sweet lady in my community named Pam, that I know and we have come to do ministry together. About a year ago, she came and asked me to speak at a womens conference. She wanted a “warm up speaker” for an annual Christian women’s event in February 2016 called Ladies Day Away.

I said NO.

She asked me again.

I said NO.

Third time is a charm, right? So she asked me again. I decided to get spiritual and say “I will pray about it”.

How many of you know that when you pray about something you better be ready to get the green light if He gives that as an answer? I fought with God. Actually, I FOUGHT WITH GOD. I argued. I pleaded. I tried to convince Him that I wasn’t the one. The more I begged, the more He gave me counsel through His Word that He wanted me. I felt stuck. I knew better than to say NO to God, but this is one of those times that I seriously debated jumping on a boat headed for Tarshish. Or one heading anywhere but speaking to this group in February 2016.

Jonah and me. We have issues.

Lots of conversations with my parents followed…they know me better than anyone, but most importantly, they know my Jesus and they could see the struggle in me. They prayed for me, with me, and encouraged me to obey and trust God for the details. I was stuck. Everywhere I turned I heard my name called. Every verse I turned to was telling me to go. Every song I heard was about obedience. Every voice was telling me to listen to my Heavenly Father. The sky seemed to spell out neon signs: “GO AND SPEAK”. I was caught…scared to death to disobey God’s leading and equally as frightened to walk in the path the Lord was asking me to.

Pam is a sweet and patient woman. She wouldn’t take NO for an answer. She kept telling me that she felt God wanted me to speak. She also asked me on several occasions: “do you ever feel like you have a whale on your tail?” I knew what she meant…she was calling me a Jonah. Wow, did she ever know me, or what?

Jonah and the whale became our standing joke. Whenever we talked about it, there was some sort of exchange about Jonah or a whale. Comments like “well, I don’t want to be swallowed by a whale” were common. We weren’t just laughing though, we knew it was serious business to disobey our all-powerful God.

I finally said YES. Reluctantly. I stood on the brink of the unknown feeling terrified to move forward, but even more scared to death to turn back. God wanted my submission…my obedience. He wanted all of me. My fearful heart. My uncertain future. My inabilities and corks. He wanted me…FULLY and FREELY. He wanted 100% of Faith Walker.

I have to tell you, once I said YES, it did feel better inside. Obedience always gives way to freedom, but don’t think for one moment that I felt like I was out of the woods. No ma’am. I was now only at the beginning of a very long road that I felt would surely lead to my death. Crazy how our imaginations run wild, isn’t it?

For months, every time I prepared part of my message to share…God would tell me it was all wrong. I would crumble the paper and start over. I would try again. Cram it in the trash. This went on for months.

In the mean time, God was dealing with my fears. I’ll be honest here and tell you that I am not a fan of public speaking. Hate is a strong word, but I might even use that word in conjunction with speaking. Speaking for Bible study sessions on video even nerve me up (little plug for our online Bible studies!). I’m totally serious. I’ve had meetings with three people that make me squirm. No joke. I’m just not the limelight-lover. So everything about this event made me want to throw up.

Added to that was the fact that the majority of these ladies would be moms and grandmas…neither one of which I am. Teen girls I get. Children, babies and toddlers I can handle. But women? Why does that make me worm in my seat? I honestly felt God had made a horrible mistake. Pam kept me well informed of the registration numbers coming in and every time I wanted to barf. I would go right to God and remind Him of what a mess I was going to make for Him in February if He didn’t do something.

So He did. Instead of fixing the event or letting me off the hook, He opened His Word one morning. It hit me between the eyes…or at gut level.

“The word of the Lord came to me: I chose you before I formed you in the womb;
I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations. But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.” Then the Lord said to me: Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. This is the Lord’s declaration.

“Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me: I have now filled your mouth with My words. See, I have appointed you today over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish,
to build and plant.”  Jeremiah 1:4-10 (HCSB)

HE was speaking in February. I was just the mouth piece with which He was going to do it through. And who was I to question His abilities to use a weak, young, blubbering, scared-to-death girl from a little town in Southern Michigan to complete His work? I kept thinking about Jonah.

Jonah and me have doubting problems. We have better ideas. More qualified friends. We have more comfortable plans for our future. Ones that don’t involve dangerous or unpleasant things. Like telling others about Jesus when they don’t want to hear about it…forget that they are facing judgment…Jonah and me value our safety!

Time and again, God convicted me of my UNBELIEF. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith (no pun intended). He is my soul’s Anchor and the King of kings. He is Creator of all and Keeper of eternity. Why do I doubt His ability to use a fragile person…when He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and has breathed the stars into existence?

I have a puny view of God…so I view impossible situations like that- impossible. Forgetting that my Jesus is the God of the impossible. The Lord of everything. He is Love. He is Life. And He is the Writer of my life story…how dare I grab the pen and tell Him He is writing it all wrong?

The day arrived and I could feel a peaceful rest fall on me. Inside I felt waves of nervousness and uncertainty, but each time I felt incompetent, I reminded myself that this was His ball game…I was just along for the ride! There were dozens of prayer warriors scattered across the United States praying for me. I read the two passages of Scripture that God had given me over and over, quieting my turbulent heart. The section in Jeremiah and also a part in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

I prayed as I’ve never prayed before. Putting on the headset microphone and staring at the stage, I thought…this has got to be a dream (or a nightmare!). Jonah and me. I told you we have trust issues. I kept hearing God’s voice…asking me to lean like I had never leaned before. They announced my name. One foot in front of the other, Faith. Just don’t barf. 20 minutes and it will be over. I stepped foot on the platform…and a miracle happened. All fear vanished. All the butterflies in my stomach, the shaky hands, the dry mouth, GONE. So this is what it means to ride with Jesus!? I’m all in.

After I spoke that Saturday, I felt filled to the brim with joy unspeakable. Obedience does that, doesn’t it? It makes us full as we follow the path of Jesus, no matter how uncomfortable or awkward it may seem at the time. I was standing at our Polished Cornerstones booth during one of the first breaks in the conference when lovely Miss Pam walked up. She was holding a box. “This is for you darlin!” She handed it to me. It was heavy and I was curious. As I unwrapped the paper, I smiled.

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There in all the tissue, was a beautiful glass whale. I laughed. Then I teared up. I’ve been given a lot of gifts over the years, but few have meant as much to me as this little glass whale. Why? Because it has a story. A story that beckons me to follow Jesus…or else. Jonah and me…we sometimes learn the hard way.

What about you, friend? Has God called you to do something dangerous or uncomfortable and you’re looking for a boat to Tarshish? Take it from someone who is a fellow whale-on-the-tail gal…He will not call you and then leave you unequipped. He will give you exactly what you need at the precise moment you need it (and probably not a moment sooner!). Why? Because He loves using weak people to showcase His glory! Your inabilities are a beautiful way for Him to shine through you! Riding with Jesus is always an adventure, friend. Why not say, YES…and then watch Him show up in a bigger way than you’ve ever imagined? You can do ALL THINGS through HIM who strengthens you!

I’ve had people ask me, will I speak again? I laugh…nervously. Can I be honest? I still feel like Jonah. If God asked me to stand on a stage again and speak to 400 women I would feel like running for Joppa (to find a ship to Tarshish) AND throwing up. That’s my knee-jerk reaction. Just because I’ve obeyed once doesn’t mean I will jump into speaking engagements or other uncomfortable situations every time God brings one around. No ma’am. I will be slow and deliberate and caucious. Really…because I KNOW that if Jesus isn’t in it, it will be a miserable failure. I’m not a public speaker. I’m just a child (along with Jeremiah), I’m a coward at times (like Gideon), I’m broken and scared (like Moses), and I’m for sure a runner (like Jonah). So…to answer that question: I hope that by God’s grace I will answer YES to whatever opportunities God asks me to fulfill. God doesn’t need my confidence, He just wants my obedience.

For all the uncertainty and fear and unknowns, it was a great day. I had fun. I learned a lot. I had many wonderful conversations. Actually, come to think of it and to quote my ever-smart mother, “we had a whale of a good time”!

Carrying the Light

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Matthew 5:14-16
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is n heaven.”

Last week an ice storm came through and our power went out for a few days. This presented some interesting challenges in day to day life. When you’re a kid, this becomes one thrilling long journey…when you’re an adult….not so much. After eighteen hours I was ready for power again.

We have wood heat (praise the Lord!) so despite the chilling cold, we were able to keep warm and our gas stove allowed us to cook, but the adventure wore off quickly for me. Who wants to take a candle to the bathroom? Or have to carry a flashlight in your pocket all the time? Or watch the laundry pile up because the washer and dryer is out of commission? And I must have said, “Please shut the refrigerator!” a thousand times. What is it about a power outage that makes people so hungry that they have to survey the refrigerator contents twice an hour?

Two days without power and it shows you a lot about life….and attitude. Believe me. At the end of the second day (when I was thoroughly sick of no lights) I had a light bulb moment. Almost literally.

It was pitch black, and even the candles spread all over the house didn’t cut the darkness very well. I was sitting on the couch in the thick blackness. I don’t remember what I was doing, except for having a sour attitude. I mean, really, what can you do when it’s dark and you have NO electricity? Then this light entered the room…it was my little sister. She is not an adult, so this was still a huge adventure for her. She was LOVING the moment and I was in the same house HATING it.

She was holding a small glass dish with a tiny tea light candle in it. Strange how the moment hit me, but it was like she was HOLDING LIGHT. You really couldn’t see her glass dish, because the light obscured the container. It really looked like she was cupping light in her hands…and she was bringing it to me. “Faith, look!” she said.

I stared at it. All I could think is how BEAUTIFUL it was. This cupping of light in her hands. It made me want to hold it in mine. To carry it around the room like a little child and share it with others. To wonder at it and be filled with the adventure that was in those sparkling eyes. Why couldn’t I find joy in this moment?

The light was amazingly bright. It seemed so luminous. Chasing away the shadows and lighting the face of this little girl. This child bringing light to me. I had to smile. I couldn’t help it. The moment was beautiful….and since phones don’t run on electricity, I had to take a picture.

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When the moment was past, it got me to thinking…what do I look like to this dark, dying world? Do I cup my hands like a willing servant and carry the light to dark places? Do I smile like a child and enjoy the journey…carrying the Light, the Beauty to others? Is my life’s light bright enough to draw them to JESUS?

I have this picture as my phone’s wallpaper right now…and it’s a visual reminder that I am to carry the Light wherever I go. I want to cup JESUS in my hands and take Him to the dark places.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Becoming His

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(Guest Post by Kathryn Zarzycki)

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4

My hope and prayer is that as you read this, you don’t see an extraordinary woman or even extraordinary actions. I hope you see an Extraordinary God who can do all things through those who trust Him! (See Philippians 4:13)

About five years ago I started reading Katie Davis’ blog. Her story was amazing to me. God used an ordinary girl to do that?! I wanted God to use me in THOSE ways. I was just an ordinary 14 year old living life in a very uncommon family. So I was going to raise money for Katie Davis with a book sale, and very uncomfortably step out of my comfort zone and share her story with everyone and anyone that would listen. Unfortunately God shut that door. The next year I decided I was going to make pillowcase dresses and send them to Katie. That too was a closed door. I tried and tried to help in anyway I could think of. I then started obsessing about Africa. I dreamt of Africa. All my thoughts were about the people of Africa and I was sure that as soon as I turned 18 I was going to be living in yes, Africa. Then I realized that although all of these things were considered good they were all about me and what I wanted. I was not asking God what His plans were. I was so frustrated and full of questions. How could I help? And why was God closing all the doors on me? I was doing everything “right”.

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Then one day I read a blog post that I am sure God wrote for me! The title of the article was Serving the Least of These. Yes! Finally God sees my heart. But as I continued to read, the least of these the article was talking about was your younger siblings! Okay God maybe you don’t see my heart…. One quote in the article was, “We need to see our younger siblings as we would orphans in Africa.” Ouch! How convicting! Here I was trying to help the people living in Africa but my relationship with my siblings was broken. I took some uncomfortable steps and as my relationship with my siblings has changed, God has been opening doors in ways I could never imagine!

Last year God started urging me to do what I had been trying to do for the last four years. But that’s the thing, I was trying to serve the people of Africa. It was completely about what I could do. All in vain. So this time I decided to pray, and let Him lead me in His ways, instead of my own. As I was doing dishes one day, God spoke to my heart. Why not sell Amazima’s necklaces? It was a grand idea! Now the hard part was beginning. For those that don’t know me jumping in and talking to the Amazima team was…not me but all God! He has been so faithful to me in that way. He showed Himself in every instance!

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Fast forward one year and I am now a part of the Amazima’s Ambassador Program. I am selling necklaces and sharing the stories of what God has done to the lives of these precious women and children! Although I am now 19 and am not living in Africa, I am learning to serve God in the little ways. It may be “little” in my eyes but in His eyes it is not. Just imagine if all the Christ followers in the world just followed God in the simplest ways? Just loving the people God places in front of them. Serving everyone as if they were Jesus! God is preparing me for GREAT things and my job is to be ready for it when He calls me! Will you join me on this great God-given adventure? – Kathryn Zarzycki

“We aren’t really called to save the world not even one person, Jesus does that. We are called to love with abandon. To enter into there lives of our neighbor’s sufferings and love them right there.” – Katie Davis Majors

(All pictures from this post are taken from amazima.org)

Beautifully Different

By | Bible, Personal, Studying Scripture, Testimonies, Uncategorized, Womanhood | No Comments

“But do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may be prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2, NKJV (emphasis mine)

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Let’s face it girls. We all like to be “in the club”. No one likes to be the odd ball…to stick out or be different than the crowd. We are a culture of sameness. People don’t want to stand out. We all want to blend into our favorite click and be like everybody else. We want to look like, talk like, and be like whatever person is currently the image. We enjoy our clicks.

It’s sad really. We feel like if we can hide in the sea of normality that it’s better for us. It’s safer. Less dangerous.

Now I’m not a Bible scholar…but I do love the Word of God. It is hope and healing and redemption when our world is painfully short of these things. I’ve found my only solace in the pages of Scripture and in this amazing JESUS I’ve come to know and love…but…nowhere in the Bible can I find where God tells us to fit in. Actually I find the complete opposite.

Now before you click off this page and start looking for something else to read, let me give you some clarification here. I’m NOT saying that you need to purposely go in every opposite direction that the crowd is going. I’m NOT saying you need to dress wild and weird just because you want to be different. I’m NOT encouraging you to be rebellious or to act strange and justify it according to Scripture. What I am talking about here is the heart…and that will affect every area of your life.

You see, being a Christian is more than going to church and having John 3:16 memorized…and those are wonderful things. Being a Christian means you are a “Christ-follower” and that means you are to be set apart for His purposes. Jesus repeatedly tells you and I in Scripture to “take up your cross and follow Me”. Crosses are heavy. They are abnormal. If you carry a cross you are definitely different from the average Joe. Who wants to be uncomfortable, right? We’re all about being cozy…and carrying a cross is everything BUT cozy.

I was thinking about this whole concept of fitting in one day as I was driving to a meeting. The topic of standing up, standing alone and standing out was rolling around in my mind. It’s something that I deal with on a personal level but also as I talk to young ladies everywhere. It’s a common thread in all circles…fitting in is just the thing to do, or at least try to do.

I take the back roads when I’m going places because I Iove this beautiful time of year. As I turned one corner on this particular morning, I noticed that a corn field had recently been harvested and a fence row of trees now stood in full view. My jaw dropped open. I stopped my car.

There in front of me was a huge row of brown, crusty trees, dead from the autumn wind and mostly barren of leaves. Directly in the center was a big, beautiful tree in full color. It stared at me. It was so different from the others. So beautiful. It seemed to beckon me.

Sitting there on the side of the road, it was as if God spoke to my heart as I stared in disbelief at the beautiful sight.

Being different for the right reasons can be incredibly beautiful.

I sat there and thanked God for a word picture. (I really need those sometimes!) Suddenly, being different didn’t look so scary or weird…it looked beautifully alive and strangely wonderful. You see, our lives are to be so radically different that it beckons our dying world to take a look at our JESUS! We should look different so that those we come in contact with cannot help but hunger for the Bread of Life. We should make people thirst for the Living Water as we live purposely set apart.

When we follow Jesus fully, our lives are different…but they are beautifully so.

What does that look like…to be set apart from the world. We want to be in the world, but not of it….so (practically speaking) what does that look like?

Let me ask you- does your facebook look any different than your non Christian friends? Is it selfie-focused or others-oriented? No…I’m not saying you can only post Bible verses and sermon videos! I’m saying…does it speak of your different-ness? What about presenting an accurate picture of who you are…not always making your life seem like a fairy tale and stretching the truth to seem more glamorous. Everybody knows it’s not girls, you live in a broken world like the rest of us…so just be honest. If you don’t have something nice to say on there…don’t say anything! Do you partake in gossip and slanderous talk or do you speak with kindness and make them wonder about your JESUS?

What about your speech? Do you talk with the same language that everyone else uses? Do you refrain from profanity, or do you struggle to not fit in…so maybe you curse sometimes to be cool?

Do you do things and go places that you know you shouldn’t, but it just feels awkward to go against the flow so you do it anyway?

Do you only choose to befriend people who are like you or do you have lots of age groups and personalities in your circles? Look at people through Jesus’s eyes…It’s different, but it’s beautiful.

What about the way you look…the way you carry yourself…your attitude…how you treat your parents and siblings…what activities you spend your free time on? Being different is our call to bring others to the Cross…because let’s get real…who wants to follow Jesus when there’s nothing different about His followers?

I think about that big, bold and beautiful autumn tree a lot. That’s what I want to look like. I’m a tree…a person like everyone else…but what’s inside of me is what changes how I look, act and speak. I do stick out from some of my fellow trees…but I hope and pray it’s the kind of difference that makes people long for my JESUS. I want my life to beckon others to look toward the God of the universe and be willing to follow Him as well. I want to be Beautifully Different.

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What about you? I’d love to hear from you, friend. What are some ways you can be Beautifully Different and reflect JESUS in your daily life? Leave your comments below or shoot me an email!

Why did God make me a girl?

By | Beauty, Personal, Uncategorized, Womanhood | No Comments

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV)

When I was a little girl and up into my teens, I spent a lot of time struggling through how to life out my God-given femininity. It’s not that I wanted to be a boy necessarily…but I just struggled with being a girly-girl. I wanted to ride the line.

Some of this was because I was the only girl in my family (at the time). My playmates were my brothers and their friends. I loved climbing trees, playing Cowboys and Indians, and jumping ramps with my bike. I got dirty and played hard. I liked fishing with worms and target shooting with bows and arrows. One time I even remember rubbing dandelions and mulberries all over my face with my brothers and their friends like Indian war paint. Unfortunately, that wasn’t one of our best ideas…especially since it was right before Wednesday Awana classes.

But there was this other side of me…this princess side. I loved to dress up and have tea parties. I loved singing and playing with dolls and wearing high-heels. I liked jewelry and flowers and pretty things. I loved reading books about princesses and looking at pictures of far off places with fine china and ball gowns. I loved being beautiful.

I was forever caught between the two worlds…of hard play in the dirt with my bros and dainty tea time with my dress up outfits.

Becoming a teen didn’t simplify the problem either. I mean, let’s face it, there’s not a whole lot of easy stuff in your teen years. It’s pretty much rough to the core stuff. Figuring out who you are and what you believe are challenging issues to face. So I came to this crossroads in my teen years…what was I going to do with my femininity? Don’t get me wrong, I never hated God for making me a girl…it’s just that I didn’t embrace it. I was more into surviving instead of thriving.

I remember being sixteen years old and looking in the mirror one morning and asking myself, “Faith, why did God make you a girl?” It wasn’t a rebellious question. It was honest. I knew if I could understand why God chose to make me feminine, then a whole lot of dots would connect for me. What did God want of me? Since He made me a girl, how should I respond to that? What did it mean to be a girl? To be feminine?

Let’s be honest girls, we all have this little thing inside of us that wants to be beautiful. To be loved. To twirl our dresses in front of our Daddy and to hear Him say how pretty we are. It’s in us. We long for affirmation. We are drawn to beautiful things. Don’t you think there’s a reason?

Psalm 90:17, “and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us…”
1 Chronicles 16:29, “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name…worship Him in the beauty of holiness.”
Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

We are drawn to beauty because we were made to crave JESUS. We were created to be drawn to the beauty of the Lord. We want to reflect that beauty. To be like Him.

These questions drove me to the Word of God….and what I found in the pages of Scripture have forever changed my life. I camped out at Psalm 139, reading it over and over. Trying to internalize its message. What I discovered was Purpose, and Meaning, and Value.
“You formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mothers womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knows right well.” (Psalm 139:13-14) God made me beautiful.

Here’s some wonderful Bible trivia: If you ever want a fascinating study, look up who God calls beautiful or “fair” in Scripture. Since He wrote the Bible through His Spirit, you can bank on these gals being beautiful! I’ve found ten mentions in the whole Bible. Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Abigail, Bathsheba, Tamar (Absolam’s sister), Tamar (Absolam’s daughter), Vashti, Esther, and Job’s second set of daughters. Check it out! It’s an amazing study. I especially love Job 42:15. Wow, what a thing for God to say of you!

Beauty is important. Femininity is important. They are who you are made to be. You see, what you believe about yourself will shape your purpose in life. We all need purpose to thrive. I love the verse in Jeremiah where God speaks truth to a young, quivering heart. A teenager at the time, Jeremiah was having an identity crisis too. He wasn’t sure if God really knew who He was choosing…then God says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5, NKJV) At the beginning of time, God chose Jeremiah ON PURPOSE. He hand -picked Jeremiah before He made him in the womb. Seriously. Stop and chew on that for a minute.

I used to think that being feminine meant wearing white gloves and letting the servants pour your coffee. I used to believe that femininity was the same as weakness. But what I found was the opposite…being a Godly woman in the world we live in takes a powerful kind of strength. In fact, I think being truly feminine, as God would have us be, takes MORE strength than being a normal gal. (Going with the flow is always easier, right?!) Femininity loves being a girl! Femininity is accepting the design that God has engraved on our very being…and it starts in the heart.

So there I was at 16 years old, realizing that since God made me girl…that must mean my femininity was the best way He could show up in my life for His glory. That changes everything, friend. Everything. He made me a girl ON PURPOSE and chose me to be a reflection of His beauty. He made me 100% feminine and colorful and beautiful and womanly. Now it was my turn to be asked a question, “What are you going to do with your femininity?”

I remember the lightbulb turning on that year for me. Instead of just dealing with myself, I began EMBRACING my femininity. I suddenly wanted to look like a girl. When boys or guys tried to hurl insults like “you throw like a girl”or “you fight like a girl”, I could grin and say to them “you bet I do!” I meant it. No, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. Slowly, God replaced my feelings of insecurity and frustration with joy and love for the girl He had made me. Don’t get me wrong, femininity doesn’t mean I can’t go target practice with my brothers, play in mud puddles with my younger siblings, or ride four wheelers…it means my attitude is different…and that changes how I look and respond to life situations. I’m a girl, and I’m glad.

I wonder, have you ever questioned what in the world you were made for? Or maybe why God made you a girl? It’s ok to ask God questions. He’s God and can handle your problems, frustrations, and even anger. Ask Him to show you His purpose for your life. Embrace your femininity.

Quote this to yourself and remember that God is speaking these words right to you…”Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born I sanctified you.” Breathe it, sister. Insert your name in there. He makes NO mistakes. You were created beautiful on purpose! Thank Him for making you feminine!

God’s purposes are bigger than ours and sometimes He has a sense of humor. I run into dozens of girls like you every year who tell me they struggle with being a girl. You just want to do fun things like the boys do and it’s frustrating. I hear your voices and I smile. I’ve been there. My heart melts when I meet you and you ask me, “why did God make me a girl?”

It’s in moments like that, I want to hug you big and long and say to your wondering heart…”Sister, can I tell you”…

He made you a girl so you could be soft hearted like He is.

He made you a girl so you could put bandages on banged up knees and hug people with broken hearts like He does.

He made you a girl because He wanted someone beautiful to reflect His beauty.

He made you a girl so you could be all the things that a man can’t be…like a mom and a big sister and an aunt. He wanted someone who could have a gentle heart towards children, like He does.

He made you a girl because He wanted a warrioress that could be tough in battle and tender with the elderly.

He made you a girl because He loves you and He wanted the best for you.

He wanted a princess…a daughter. So He made you. You are precious to Him, sweet girl! You are the daughter of the King. Embrace it for all you are and live in it unashamedly. You are beautiful and loved and treasured….because He made you a girl.

Praise the Lord!

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1 Thesselonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Gratefulness. Praise. Thanksgiving. We have all heard it over and over again. We’ve read books about it. We’ve heard sermons on it. We’ve told our friends and they’ve told us. We know that God wants us to praise Him and be grateful on a daily basis. Yet somehow, in the crazy lives we live, we forget. Often. At least I do.

About three years ago, I read a book that put this gratefulness thing into a whole new perspective for me. The book is called “One thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the connection between my gratefulness (or lack of it) and my heart’s joy level. I’ve lived it’s truth, so I knew it wasn’t a made-up correlation. When I am grateful, I am naturally joyful. Somehow focusing on the gifts God has given me turns my attitude to joy.

So I decided to take the challenge. I chose to write down 1,000 gifts.

I started a beautiful notebook….and I kept it laying on the counter as I went about my day. I took it in my purse when I was gone. It went with me on vacation. That journal was with me constantly. I found (as I had learned through Scripture and Ann’s book) that being thankful made me joyful. It made me mindful of all the little things and made me laugh and smile at the simplest gifts. I saw it as a spiritual exercise. A forming of a habit that would bring glory and praise to Jesus.

My first entires were all happy ones.
The inviting smell of peppermint mocha… Old family photographs- wrinkled and worn…Candle flames, dancing in the shadows…American flags flapping in the breeze…Church bells that ring twice a day… Spring flowers blooming….empty laundry baskets.

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All of a sudden I treasured the smile of a stranger. I loved the first daffodil that bloomed…the rainbow that arched across the sky…the sunset…the eyelashes on a baby…a stack of old books. I went from grumbling about the mud on the floor to thanking God for it. I was smiling more. I was laughing often. I was breathing thanks a hundred times a day. I was LOOKING for His graces in all the normal, but beautiful everyday things. My heart praised Him often.

This was a turning point for me. Something happened as I chronicled Gods fathomless love for me. My heart was changing. Life was shifting. Through this shift, I began thanking God for the less pleasant things. The G key that sticks on the piano…Sloppy muddy driveways… A broken furnace… Sickness in our home… Broken glass… Ramen noodles smashed into the floor… Spilled beads everywhere.

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The good and the bad together. He says to praise Him for all things. ALL. Garden gloves… Dead cell phone batteries… Long afternoons of reading… Empty laundry baskets… Homemade pies… Oily work clothes from my brothers… Cold sleet outside… Being snowed in… Fresh strawberries… Old quilts.

Sometimes I would get so excited about seeing gifts of God that I would grab anything I could find and scribble my thanks on it. Then I would take it home and transfer it to my journal. I had stacks of random receipts, small scraps of paper and McDonalds napkins all with things I was grateful for. Sometimes we would even write our blessings on little sticky notes and cover the refrigerator with them. My journal hit 1,000 gifts…but then I couldn’t stop! My heart became fuller…because my focus was on Him. His goodness. His grace. His love for me.

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But sometimes in life, our focus can shift. It happens that way for me. Last month, I was in one of those ruts where gratefulness was really not a part of my daily routine. Enter my youngest sister…again. She has a way of pricking my conscience so innocently. Her honest tenderness to the Holy Spirit has convicted me more than once. So I was playing the piano, practicing some music for Sunday worship and she came up to me with that thoughtful look in her eyes. I knew something big was coming…but I didn’t know what. It was time for a wake up call.

“Are you ever afraid to raise your hands?” She asked me. I was a little confused. She didn’t give me any back ground to her line of questioning. After a minute of questioning she kind of sighed in her seven year old way and said, “I am afraid to raise my hands and praise the Lord in church. Are you ever afraid like that? I think about people watching me.” Wow. Ok. Not ready for that one from a little girl. Now it was my turn to sigh.

I had to admit…yes, I am afraid sometimes to praise the Lord out loud or in the open. I fear man more than God sometimes. I assured her that I feel those same things and that God is jealous for our praise. He wants us to glorify Him…to think of Him more than what other people are thinking of us. We talked for a minute about the Bible and how God says to lift our hands in praise and sing songs to Him….but I kept thinking about me. I needed to thank Him more. To praise Him bigger. To love Him more than anything.

But what came next knocked the wind out of me. I could see this seven year old in front of me processing this in her little way. She is brilliant and sensitive to the Lord…I could see it all clicking. She almost looked sad…like she had done something wrong. She told me how she had wanted to raise her hands during worship, but she was too scared. I echoed that thought. I’ve been there…just not at seven. “You know,” she said, “this Sunday, I am NOT going to let the rocks take my place!” Her eyes were serious. Determined. Then she started singing to explain. “Before the rocks cry out, I just want to praise you, just want to praise you, for all you have done.”

Suddenly, I felt like I was standing on Holy ground. God was here. I held back to tears. This moment was so sacred. My heart was full…and sad. I was the one the rocks were replacing! I was neglecting to thank Him. To praise His name. To tell others. To chronicle His love to me. I had forgotten the most important thing…Him. She ran away with a bounce in her step. I sat there heavy.

That was my neon sign from heaven! I went to the Lord…repenting of my ungratefulness and asking Him to create in me a clean heart. I started counting blessings again. Thanking Him. Looking for Him everywhere I went.

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What about you? Are you worshipping Him? Thanking Him? Praising Him? Lets make His glory a daily part of our lives. There are lots of ways we can do that…maybe through sharing about Jesus with a friend, through worshipping Him in song, through praising Hin in prayer or through writing your blessings down. Let’s have hearts of gratefulness to our Father, sisters!

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“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing…Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful into Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.” Psalm 100:1-2, 4-5

Climb for Perspective!

By | Bible, Family, Personal, Relationships, Studying Scripture, Suffering | No Comments

“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Perspective is everything…and I tend to lose proper perspective easily. Often. I am a cronic perspective-loser. (If that’s even a word.) Two weeks ago was one of those times.

I was away from home on a work trip with my family and trying to juggle the normal responsibilities from my perch in the South. It was one of those times when the to do list in my brain was overwhelming me and making me a bit crazy. My fuse was getting smaller and smaller and my attitude was challenging me hourly. With an upcoming conference and other ministry opportunities, I was trying to get some work done, despite my being away from home. All of this and more were piling up in my mind. One of those times where you mark off two things on your to do lists and add four. At night my brain wouldn’t shut off. I was tired emotionally. I was discouraged.

Then I climbed a mountain.

Ok…it was more like a high hill with lots of rocks, but none the less, they call it a mountain. Pinnacle Mountain in Arkansas. I was told it was a “hike”, and if I had been in shape, it would have been just that…but it was more like a humbling stop-and-go climb for me. Three quarters of a mile seems like an easy hike until you put it 1,011 feet in the air. That changes things tremendously. The terrain was very rocky and thankfully, I am told we were on the “easier side”. That’s a very good thing. Otherwise…I’m not sure if I would have made it in one piece.

It was a hike. Took me an hour to summit, being 26 and sorely out of shape. I kept hearing my heart pounding out of my chest and my heavy breathing. It’s a very effective way to shut me up since I couldn’t talk and huff and puff simultaniously.

Every 10 minutes I stopped for a breather. Every bench had my name on it. My two teenage siblings were ruthless in their fun ribbing. “The old lady” was climbing a mountain! I waved them off…they were right, I was older than them AND out of shape. I reminded them that they didn’t have to run ahead and prove themselves! “Let’s enjoy the trip” really translated to “I am dying, can you slow down?”

Along the way, I was met by many athletic folks jumping and skipping rock to rock…as I hoisted myself slowly from one to the other. They exhausted me even more just watching them. We saw one man, probably in his late sixties or older, who was jogging downhill at a much younger speed. Our friend who took us on the hike said that same gentleman is there all the time. That knowledge wore me out too. People take this mountain climbing serious…like it’s a favorite pastime, or something. I mused at my very different ideas of a favorite hobby. None of which were rock climbing.

After an hour, and several bench breaks, we arrived at the top. I was windless and tired. My mind rolled over my to do list back home and the emails I needed to reply to…and I really needed to finish that blog! My shirt was wet from sweat and my legs felt remarkably similar to noodles. As I crested the ridge, I appreciated the breeze…especially in a damp shirt.

Then I looked down into the valley below and smiled. I wanted to congratulate myself for not fainting on the way up, but the view took my breath away (at least what was left of it). There was my Creator’s handiwork in full view. The sun was starting to set and the river below snaked around the mountain. In the far distance, I saw a sailboat…like a pin head on the horizon. The sky was exploding into color and the breeze was perfect. Below, I saw the city…this city I had just came grumbling from. The same place that seemed so big, and scary, and overwhelming. Now it looked ridiculously small. I put my hand against the spot where I had previously been and it all fit in the palm of my hand.

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How my perspective had changed. Quickly. In an hour of climbing. Suddenly…my to do list vanished. My swimming brain stilled. My heart was in awe. I couldn’t get over the sail boat. It was so tiny. Then, as if in a whisper, I felt a truth drop into my heart. “There’s my to do list,” I thought. When I am right up on it, it’s HUGE. But when I am with the Father, it’s a speck of nothing on the horizon.

As a child I always wondered what Christ meant when He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The way I saw it, with Christ came a rough road ahead. Worth it? Absolutely! It’s just that the promise of a lighter burden didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I didn’t see lighter loads. Since fully surrendering my life to Christ, I had a whole lot more on my plate. So what did Jesus mean by a “light burden” and an “easy yoke”?

It seemed, standing there on top of that mountain, I understood what He meant. He didn’t mean the problems would disappear. He meant that your perspective would be changed. On that mountain, I was lighter. My load seemed like nothing. Weightless. Was my to do list erased? No. In fact, I knew it was getting longer at home while I stood on Pinnacle Mountain. My perspective had changed. All those details that I had been stressing over? They were all a pin-head sailboat on the horizon compared to the wealth of God’s abilities. He doesn’t need me to run around with my head cut off. He doesn’t need me to complete His tasks…He chooses me and uses me for His glory. Big difference.

So there I was 1,011 feet up in the air and all the dots were connecting for me. My problems aren’t big. My to do list isn’t impossible. My opportunities aren’t overwhelming. I make them that way. I blow them up into monsterous proportions and then God has to come along and deflate them when I am at my wits end. He calls me to climb a mountain…and then He points to my sailboat of a problem. Its really not that big from up there. Its actually very achievable. It fits under my pinky finger.

I know I stared for a long time into the valley that day, overwhelmed in a different way. This shrinking feeling washed over me. Freedom feels very light. In fact, it’s weightless. And for the first time in a long time, I felt weightless. It wasn’t my job to be frantic and coordinate perfection. It’s my job to climb the mountain and be obedient. He does the rest. Roll up my sleeves in diligence? YES. But not get in God’s way of planning and making all things beautiful IN HIS TIME.

The sun was setting and we had to leave the mountain top. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stamp this image deep into my heart. Every river bend, every church steeple, every road and every sail boat. I wanted it etched in my memory. I wanted this new perspective never to fade. I wanted this mountain to change me.

How often do we allow the circumstances of life to rob us of our joy and sap us of energy? We blow up our problems and create bigger ones. However real they are, we must not let them rule our lives and steal our zest for living. That relationship that is crumbling…it IS painful, but it must not keep you in the valley. Climb up, dear friend! That test final that seems impossible? One rock at a time, sister…move steadily to the top and your perspective will change. Stay on the mountain top as long as you can and carve the things you see there in your heart forever. Dwell on His power. His majesty. HIM.

As I started down into the valley again, I thought a lot about what I had experienced on the mountain. I carried with me the realization that sometimes…amid the struggles in life…I just need to push the pause button and climb. I needed to MAKE time to climb. To be with Him and rest in His perspective.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I fully expect in my humanness to need another mountain climb again one day. Maybe even soon. We all need a visual reminder. When that moment comes again…I will climb. But for today…I am remembering that little pin head of a sail boat and praising God for His power over my problems, however big they may seem at the moment.

What is your perspective today? Climb a mountain. Climb a tree. Climb for perspective. Live in the Presence of the Father and remember that “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Climb, sister, climb!